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Tag Archives: Moral Debates on Prostitution

Ham, Julie. (2020). Rates, roses and donations: Naming your price in sex work. Sociology 2020 (Online First). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0038038520906773

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Questions about payment and what it signifies, lie at the heart of feminist debates concerning the morality and legitimacy of sex work. Yet the materialities of payment still remain interestingly under-explored in sex work research. This article addresses this gap by examining immigrant, migrant and racialized sex workers’ pricing practices in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Determining one’s prices or rates in the sex industry was not a neutral, market-driven calculation for many workers, but was infused with strong ideas about safety, risk, experiential knowledge and the specificities of sex work. Analysing prices and pricing practices through a practice theory lens offers an opportunity to re-think the role of choice in feminist debates about sex work, by highlighting the decisions workers make on a day-to-day basis and capturing the myriad knowledges gained more commonly through experience rather than instruction.

Hock, Stefan. 2019. ‘To Bring About a “Moral of Renewal”: The Deportation of Sex Workers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War’. Journal of the History of Sexuality 28 (3): 457–82.

In January 1915 European consuls in Istanbul gave the city’s police commissioner, Osman Bedri Bey, a list of names of known procurers. The accused traffickers included Russian, Argentinian, Romanian, American, Austrian, French, British, and Greek citizens. All but one of them were deported; 151 were banished from the country, 11 were sent to Sivas, and 5 were sent to Kayseri, cities in the interior of Anatolia that were far removed from the capital.1 Bedri quickly rose through the ranks of Ottoman civil officialdom as he was a close friend of Talaat, the powerful interior minister who became grand vizier in 1917. Read more…

Mancini, Christina, Justin T. Pickett, Kristen M. Budd, Stephanie Bontrager, and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. 2020. ‘Examining Policy Preferences for Prostitution Regulation Among American Males: The Influence of Contextual Beliefs’. Criminal Justice Review, February. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734016820906601.

Abstract
The arguments for criminalizing prostitution surround public concerns—moral order, public health, and safety. For this reason, an understanding of attitudes about the nature and consequences of the practice, particularly among American males, the presumed consumers of sex-related exchanges, is needed. Specifically, how do contextual beliefs about the nature of prostitution (e.g., negative health effects, victimization risk, age of entry) shape policy preferences regarding prostitution? Data from a nationally representative survey developed to solicit sensitive information are utilized to assess these attitudes among a large sample of American men (N = 2,525). Results show that paradoxically most men approve of legalizing commercial sex exchange, even while believing the practice harms prostitutes by increasing victimization risk and reducing their overall well-being. Multivariate analysis indicates divides in opinion regarding legalization support. Implications are discussed.

Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve. 2019. ‘“A Red Card against Sex Tourism”: Sex Panics, Public Emotions, and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil’. Feminist Formations 31 (2): 125–54. https://doi.org/10.1353/ff.2019.0019.

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This article examines the campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking that have emerged with the advent of several mega-sporting events in Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Natal, one of the twelve host cities of the 2014 World Cup, it focuses on the appeal to emotions in mobilization against sex trafficking and sex tourism. Despite the recent turn to emotions in social sciences, including the role of emotions in politics, there is a dearth of study examining the intersections of emotions and moral panics. Yet expressions of disgust, anger, rage, or outrage commonly accompany moral panics issues. This article engages with how campaigns against sex tourism and sex trafficking associated with the 2014 World Cup materialize through emotional tropes iterated and reiterated in public spaces, or sex panics scripts. More specifically, this article identifies various scripts—the sexually innocent yet violated child, the bad gringo, and the enslaved woman—and points to what gives them their traction. Taken together, these emotional tropes are constitutive of an affective logic that both conflates justice with punishment and repression, and makes certain oppressive interventions and fraught alliances “feel right”—that is, publicly thinkable, possible, and acceptable.

Wallis, Alexandra. 2019. ‘The Disorderly Female: Alcohol, Prostitution and Moral Insanity in 19th-Century Fremantle’. Journal of Australian Studies 0 (0): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/14443058.2019.1638815.
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Mary Jane Hayes was a “deviant” woman—a “drunken prostitute” who was in and out of both the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Fremantle Prison from 1871 to 1898. One of twelve women in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum records to have been referred to as a prostitute, Mary Jane was particularly reviled: her alcohol consumption and unsavoury lifestyle were often blamed as the cause of her violent behaviour and insanity. Prison and asylum records reveal several arrests for drunkenness and vagrancy, with an estimated 67 convictions; newspaper articles also depict her numerous convictions for indecent behaviour, obscene language and larceny. Mary Jane Hayes’s contact with both the asylum and prison, as well as her mentions in newspapers, allows for an archival and media content examination of late 19th-century Fremantle society and its treatment of deviant women who fell into the category of moral insanity: madness caused by a moral failing, especially alcohol and sex. This article will make a wider contribution to colonial Australian history, particularly the history of Fremantle, by developing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of women and moral insanity in the late 19th century.

Grohs, Stephan. 2019. ‘Contested Boundaries: The Moralization and Politicization of Prostitution in German Cities’. European Urban and Regional Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969776418822083.
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The local regulation of prostitution in Germany is a contested area of urban politics. In this issue area, morality claims intersect with the material interests of home- and landowners and the security demands of ‘ordinary’ citizens. The Prostitution Law of 2001 has liberalized the legal framework: the legislation ‘normalized’ sex work, triggering the re-definition of urban strategies to regulate prostitution. This article analyses the conflict dynamics and the framing of conflicts over regulations in four German cities. It identifies the main actors, coalition-building processes and the framing of conflicts, and links these elements to the resulting policies. With regard to theory, it explores the relevance of classical explanatory approaches to local governance such as party politics, urban growth coalitions, political culture and bureaucratic politics to the value-laden issue of prostitution. It thereby contributes to the growing academic interest in the nature of morality policies and the question of the specific conditions under which prostitution is framed as a moral issue or as a ‘normal’ subject within urban politics.

Gold, Natalie. (2019). The limits of commodification arguments: Framing, motivation crowding, and shared valuations. Politics, Philosophy & Economics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1470594X19825494.
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I connect commodification arguments to an empirical literature, present a mechanism by which commodification may occur, and show how this may restrict the range of goods and services that are subject to commodification, therefore having implications for the use of commodification arguments in political theory. Commodification arguments assert that some people’s trading a good or service can debase it for third parties. They consist of a normative premise, a theory of value, and an empirical premise, a mechanism whereby some people’s market exchange affects how goods can be valued by others. Hence, their soundness depends on the existence of a suitable candidate mechanism for the empirical premise. The ‘motivation crowding effect’ has been cited as the empirical base of commodification. I show why the main explanations of motivation crowding – signaling and over-justification – do not provide mechanisms that could underpin the empirical premise. In doing this, I reveal some requirements on any candidate mechanism. I present a third explanation of motivation crowding, based on the crowding out of frames, and show how it fulfills the requirements. With a mechanism in hand, I explore the type of goods and services to which commodification arguments are applicable. The mechanism enables markets to break down ‘shared valuations’, which is a subset of the valuations that proponents of commodification arguments are concerned with. Further, it can only break down relatively fragile shared understandings and therefore, I suggest, it cannot support a commodification argument regarding the sale of sexual services.

 

Dadhania, Pooja, Deporting Undesirable Women (October 2, 2018). 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. 53 (2018); California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 18-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259599
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Immigration law has long labeled certain categories of immigrants “undesirable.” One of the longest-standing of these categories is women who sell sex. Current immigration laws subject sellers of sex to an inconsistent array of harsh immigration penalties, including bars to entry to the United States as well as mandatory detention and removal. A historical review of prostitution-related immigration laws reveals troubling origins. Grounded in turn-of-the-twentieth-century morality, these laws singled out female sellers of sex as immoral and as threats to American marriages and families. Indeed, the first such law specifically targeted Asian women as threats to the moral fabric of the United States due to their perceived sexual deviance. Subsequent laws built upon these problematic foundations, largely without reexamining the initial goal of safeguarding American morality from the ostensible sexual threat of noncitizen women. This dark history casts a long shadow, and current laws remain rooted in these archaic notions of morality by continuing to focus penalties on sellers of sex (who tend to be women), without reciprocal penalties for buyers (who tend to be men). Contemporary societal views on sellers of sex have changed, however, as society has come to increasingly tolerate and accept sexual conduct outside the bounds of marriage. Although societal views surrounding prostitution remain complex, there is an increased understanding of the different motivations of sellers of sex, as well as a recognition that individuals forced into prostitution are victims who need protection. Prostitution-related immigration laws should be reformed to no longer penalize sellers of sex, both to bring immigration law in line with modern attitudes towards sellers of sex and to mitigate the discriminatory effect of the archaic and gendered moral underpinnings that initially gave rise to and continue to show in these laws.
This article examines efforts to order Times Square during the first five decades of its existence as a high profile commercial centre. Between 1892 and 1954, New York City powerholders launched a number of clean up campaigns that sought to minimize the working class attributes of the district and to transform it into a mainstream consumption space. These campaigns targeted commercial sex, gay nightclubs, burlesque theatres, street vendors, ‘disorderly’ people, and honky tonks. The strategies used to order Times Square included exclusionary zoning, moral campaigns and restrictive licensing, as well as the enforcement of curfews, building codes, anti-loitering legislation, and indecency statutes. Despite these efforts, the working class character of Times Square persisted, even though the operation of many working class establishments was disrupted and the freedom of ordinary people to frequent the district was compromised.
Pendleton, Kimberly. 2017. „The other sex industry: narratives of feminism and freedom in evangelical discourses of human trafficking“. New Formations 91 (91): 102–15. https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF:91.06.2017.
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This paper explores the role that narratives of ‘sex trafficking’ play within evangelical Christian conceptions of sex, gender, and global engagement. It examines evangelical cultural products that link sex work, pornography consumption, and forced prostitution, all of which constitute a site through which gender norms are negotiated. Primarily, this paper argues that masculinity itself is imagined to be the central victim within the evangelical fight against sex trafficking. Additionally, this paper argues that the language of this fight, particularly its emphasis on the ways that men harm women, is embedded within feminist rhetoric and logic, even when utilising them to anti-feminist ends. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the parameters of evangelical interest in the sex industry, and the focus on masculinity in crisis, in particular, are imbued with racial imagery that creates a dichotomy between the foreign, dangerous, and dark space, where men are tempted and a safe, white domesticity to which properly restored patriarchy promises to return them.